(Communicated by the Foreign Minister’s Bureau)
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Liberman, who is on an official visit to China, met on Monday (19 March 2012) in Chengdu with the governor of Sichuan, Jufeng Jiang. At the meeting, FM Liberman declared that Israel intends to open a consulate in Chengdu by the beginning of next year (2013). This will be the MFA’s fourth diplomatic mission in China, in addition to the embassy in Beijing and the consulates in Shanghai and Guangzhou. The new addition makes China the country with the most Israeli diplomatic missions after the United States.
FM Liberman told Governor Jiang that that this is the first visit of an Israeli foreign minister in Sichuan, and that he chose to visit Chengdu because of its importance and significance in China, its central role in the continued development of China and because it serves as the gateway to western China. According to Forbes Magazine, Chengdu is the city expected to achieve the fastest rate of growth in the world over the coming decade, and is central to China’s development strategy. During the meeting, FM Liberman stated that the openness of the leaders of Sichuan and Chengdu to Israeli companies was a primary contributing factor in Israel’s decision to concentrate its effort in this region and caused the active involvement of Israeli companies in the important phases of development in Sichuan.
Prior to the meeting, FM Liberman inaugurated an exhibition in Chengdu marking 20 years of bilateral diplomatic relations between Israel and China. FM Liberman stated that the two peoples, the Jews and Chinese, have an ancient tradition of friendship and partnership that began before the establishment of official diplomatic relations. FM Liberman added that in recent years the relationship between the two countries has been strengthened significantly, and that the two peoples complement each other in their similarities and differences.
Minister Liberman opened the Israel-China economic meeting in Chengdu, and attended the signing ceremony of the agreement between the Infinity Investment Fund
and the representatives of the Chengdu ministry of science. The agreement deals with the commercialization of Israeli technology and know-how in western China.
During his visit to Chengdu, FM Liberman addressed the remarks made by EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton, who linked the murder in Toulouse
and the massacres in Syria to the events in Gaza. Minister Liberman said that Ashton’s remarks are unworthy, and he is hopeful she will review them once again and retract them.
FM Liberman declared that Israel is the most moral country in the world, and despite the fact that we are forced to fight terrorists who operate from within the civilian population, the IDF does everything possible to prevent harm to civilians even though they are protecting terrorists. No army in the world has a higher moral standard than the IDF, who endangers its own soldiers to minimize the risk to civilians. Minister Liberman added that the children Ashton should be thinking about are the children of southern Israel who live in constant fear of rocket attacks launched from Gaza
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On Tuesday, March 20, the Spokesperson of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission, Catherine Ashton, made the following statement:
"The High Representative strongly condemns the killings at the Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse yesterday and extends her sympathies to the families and friends of the victims and to the people of France and the Jewish community.
We want to make this clear, because her words yesterday at the UNRWA event were grossly distorted by one of the news agencies.
In her remarks, the High Representative referred to tragedies taking the lives of children around the world and drew no parallel whatsoever between the circumstances of the Toulouse attack and the situation in Gaza."